Our Life Story contest is coming to a close on Monday 9th May and our extremely talented community members have been showcasing the stories that matter most to them. They have made us laugh, cry, clap and cheer (just as we had asked)! Here is a round-up of some of the best submissions that we haven’t yet displayed.
Submitted by Kate Evans
It is really exciting to join the wonderful artists applying to this competition brief. As soon as I saw the title, I knew which artwork I would pick…
“A LIFETIME SPENT CREATING NEW NESTS”
I would normally go on about how I drew since the age of 3 and what all happened after that but my art does not discuss this, it discusses a person’s own history and what it is like to be human. The artwork that I have entered was inspired by how I have found myself moving from location to location and the leaving of baggage behind or bringing the bagage with you to the next destination.
At the age of 2 I moved house. It was a brown house full of 70’s decor. Reason being, a pack of wild dogs leapt into the garden and nearly savaged me whilst I was in my pram. Mum warded them off my throwing some overly ripe plums towards them.
My mum and dad moved me to the suburbs, this house was a house full of pastel colours. I was given a technicolour cuddly elephant and I think this toy may have sparked my love for colour.
I now lived nearer to my grandmother, who over years of cookery training provided me with the “prepare for anything” baggage. This baggage is what I take everywhere no matter what!
I did not move house for another 14 years. I grew into a riotous teenager mastering skateboarding, developing a love of animals (especially cats!), creativity and everyday rather than socialising with my own species I would draw or paint accompanied by the neighbourhood cats. I rewarded their patience with chunks of ham.
The baggage that sticks most is my father dying of cancer when I was the age of 7. I experienced the yellowing of his skin much alike the discolouring of a dying autumnal leaf.
I turned to cats even more as the children my age thought it funny that I was left without a father. What I had been left with the ginger hair, glasses that eclipsed my milk-pale freckled face and a height disadvantage.
I was the stick of all jokes until I created a new nest with a friend. Perhaps he was my first friend. I had never been quite sure, yet like the cat friends of my past he accepted me I was 16, I had new exterior baggage in the colour of ebony. from a distance with my milkbottle complection I may have appeared to look much like a penguin from a distance.I was abit of a goth should I say. I moved to the Welsh valleys. Art college was only a bus ride away. Just like my new habitat with my friend, it was surrounded my the Welsh mountains. If William J Turner had seen these mountains he would have been thrilled. The view was sublime. I brought the baggage my grandother had given me which was survival. I learnt the skills of how to look after myself.
Following this I ended up moving again. I had spent all my life in the Welsh suburbs but now I was moving to the city. I noticed a certain attribute of the city dwellers. Everything they did was fast from crossing the rood, to driving, to eating whilst walking at the speed which i could only jog. The city tested my wits. There was baggage that I had to dump as I was no longer dependent. I lived in a small flat with just about enough room to get into bed, city furniture had dual uses. The bed was now also a desk chair. The drawer chest was a dressing table, my bedroom was my studio. The living room was now the outdoors where I would go out and have a coffee. Unlike suburbia, to be a Cardiffian was to be out and about and rather than take the public transport, you just walked everywhere. My grandmother had only taught me so much about food. She had taught me to cook homely roasts, stews and fairy cakes. Now I was peering through the cafes serving Lebanese, Thai, Bangladesh cuisine. I was inspired not only in my art but in cooking too.
After a relationship breakdown I was dropped back into the nest that was still warmed by my mother. My mother was older and my independence came as quite a shock. She was far to attuned to keeping me away from the kitchen. This nest was my child nest but as an adult, you no longer want to be restricted.So I planned to create a huge nest by myself with money that I saved for a year and my new kitten Leon. I spent a month in a flat with a boiler from world war 2, single glazing, oil soaked carpets and a kitchen out of the 50’s. It took me a month to weave my nest into what I deemed as Kate standard. My interior design work allowed for the kitchen to look like an iced cake with raindow sprinkles made from coloured rolled up card pieces superglued to the ceiling and walls. I had my first experiences of living on my own with a cat reliant on me coming back home with a trophy can filled with jellied chunks of meat.
I met the girl I would marry in 5 years another 3 times with Leon in tow of course.
We lived with our friend who was grumpy in a likeable way. He had aged in mentality way before his time and although he was our age, it was like living with a grumpy uncle in his 60’s, stubborn and stuck in his ways. He was bitterly single for these years whilst we grew in love till he met a girl that would not make living there nice anymore.
We moved from the city to a grey town. This town was dangerous and not a day passed where there was not a serious crime committed. My third day living in this town I was threatened by a woman pretending to be pregnant who was going to force me to go to the hole in the wall and give her all of my money. I felt prepared to run, the house we now lived at was on the very top of the hill. I hated running at the best of times, I was never sporty in school but something just gave me legs to run up that hillwhilst this woman behind me was yelling blasphemous remarks. This nest was on a shaky branch and it was only a matter of time before it would collapse. I got married, but 4 weeks later our housemate wanted us moved out in only 7 days.
The day that we were told, I discovered my prints and many drawings stored in the loft had been destroyed and were blacked through seeping water that had been coming in over those months.
We moved into a temporary nest and rather than going on a honeymoon all of our savings went on paying for 6 months of rent. It was a box no bigger that 3 by 7 metres divided into a bathroom, kitchen, hallway and bedroom. I had to throw out 2 thirds of my life’s work as there was no where else they could have gone. We could only take one sack of clothes, a foam mattress and a kettle. I had grand ideas of building upwards for space, having a tall bed witha desk underneath but all those ideas popped when we discovered that the radiator only turned on when our opera singing neighbour turned their on. Our electricy was on a 50 pence metre which was bizarre. There was no running hot water from any taps, only a trickle of tepid water flowed out of the shower head.
This nest was uninhabitable and I had just paid £3000. We now had baggage which hardened us, made us angry, but on the up side made us put our best foot foward and survive. It was winter so at night it was like ice. We used 10 waterbottles to heat up the bed and all huddled up we would play scrabble until we heard a clunk from the 50 pence metre and everything would be plunged into black. If this was not bad enough, 3 more of my painting were consumed, not by water this time, but by the damp. The cat tower too. All turned green.
On the upside we found a new property, claimed our money back and moved into a larger flat all in working order. We are still building this nest and rebuilding ourselves and re-saving for that honey moon.
So this drawing that I created was to encapsulate all of these experiences. Everybody’s story is different but we can all relate to the unheaval of moving and whether it brings the positive or negative. Our habitat, our life. Building new nests in the art of living.
Thank you for reading
Submitted by Farbod Tabaei
My Name: Farbod Tabaei
About my work: It’s about tragic life of a yogi who has lost his all. He lives in a desert with a painful sorrow and he is trying to hide himself from his memories!
Submitted by Amirhossein Moghisi
Have you ever had an accident in your life?! It was exactly 17 months ago when an accident happened in my life. For no reason, my asthma got worse and it got me to hospital twice. Why would I lie? I was depressed and needed some lift to get everything back together and continue with my normal life. What I didn’t know was that one accident can change a life forever and it will never be normal again. My asthma was not the accident though. When I needed some motivation, the accident I’m talking about happened.
On the first of May, 2014, a beautiful girl entered my life via a messaging app. I will never forget her message “Ciao”. In Italian it means “hey”. I answered to this girl like I normally answer everyone. A month went by and we weren’t chatting much. I feel ashamed to admit but this girl was once for a time, in my eyes, boring! And please tell me who likes to talk to a boring person?! Call it destiny, call it magic or anything you want but for some strange reason, we started chatting again and this time, we were chatting in Whatsapp. As days passed, we got friendlier and that’s exactly the point when my life started to change. The main reason we used to chat (Yes, it’s not the main reason anymore), was because I wanted to improve my Italian which was my passion. So, you may be wondering why I call this ‘normal’ friendship an accident. At the end of this story I will tell you.
When summer arrived, we were both free and could chat a lot more. I will never forget the night we chatted until it was 5 AM. As days went by, my Italian was getting better and better, this was exactly the thing I ever wanted, to be able to communicate in Italian. We didn’t know it, but the girl was giving me a gift which was sneaking from the backdoor and I never saw it coming. One of the most powerful friendships you can ever imagine was being built by us.
Hot and last days of summer arrived and a storm started in my city. If you’re a doctor, you know better than anyone that being in a dust storm is the worst possible thing for an asthmatic. I thought it passed without having any effects on me. Until no later than 24 hours after it occurred, I experienced a very powerful asthma attack. I took 3 injections and after 4 hours, I got better. I believe that best friends are the most precious things to us and I personally would love this girl more than I’d love my girlfriend! I never wanted to make her feel sad so I really didn’t want to tell her about my asthma attack. But a man is not a man if he doesn’t keep his promises. We promised each other that we’d tell ANYTHING to each other and we’d never hide anything. I had to tell her… I knew it! She felt sad for me and I felt sad for her. She loved me as her best friend and she was not happy that she heard this happed. I told her not to worry because I will not have an attack in the next months, but how true was that?
That powerful attack was just the start! This kept happening for 10 long and dark days. Each day, 2 or 3 asthma attacks which got me hospitalized and I took at least 10 injections every day. Yes, my family was there for me and they’re always here for me but this girl… this girl kept telling me “It will pass”. And I couldn’t believe it. I was so close to admit my illness and finally die from it, also known as Mental Suicide. But with the help of my family and support of this precious girl, I finally survived and proudly say that if it wasn’t for her, I’d never live again. This girl entered my life as an accident and one simple message changed my whole life. Do you have a person who accidentally came in your life and gave you so many gifts? Do you have someone who saved your life a thousand times? That’s why I call this an accident and I call her an angel and a gift from skies!
Now that I’m telling this story, you just hear 17 months. But for us, it was 17 months of happiness and joy, of love and beauty!
Eva! I know you’re reading this and now that you reached the end of the story, I want to have some words with you. I dedicate this life story to you and I want to take a moment to say THANK YOU FOR EVERYTHING YOU HAVE EVER DONE FOR ME. I will never forget what you did and keep doing forme and Ti Voglio Bene!
Submitted by Michael Richmond
The Rock and Roll Lifestyle…
I can pinpoint the exact time I realised that the rock and roll lifestyle was likely to remain forever out of reach.
We were engaged to play at a festival in somewhere in the Home Counties, immediately before a band that used to be big in the nineties. Understandably, we were excited, several members of the band having cut our teeth performing one of this band’s hits in our first cover band venture. We made sure to grab our copies of the band’s CDs, hoping to get them signed with the lovely gold pens we carried with us, to add to our collection of memorabilia of life on the road.
Down the M1 we went, five of us crammed in our bass player’s 4×4, boot laden with bouzoukis and cajons and other assorted paraphernalia. I had been granted a side seat and smugly enjoyed the ride down, not realising that the angle of my pelvis was giving me a back pain that still gives me twinges to this day…
We arrived at the venue in good time to a glorious summer’s scene – nothing in the world can compare to the South of England on a sunny day – and were let into the area containing the tent we’d be playing in through a gap in the temporary metal fencing.
Having quickly scanned the area to locate the important areas – toilets, bar and pork sandwich seller – we unloaded our kit and sound checked ready for the performance. As we were coming off stage, the headline band arrived. Or rather, their drummer did.
A deep red, banged up D reg Nissan Micra puffed around the perimeter road, spluttering to a halt beside the entrance to the performance area. We immediately recognised the drummer from the formerly famous band from countless copies of teenage copies of the NME. He extricated himself from the various stands and drums cases he had somehow crammed into the car like a demented game of Tetris, and rolled himself a very thin cigarette.
The Stage Manager wandered over to him. ‘Rest of the band’s been delayed’, I overheard him say, ‘The singer’s car’s broken down on the motorway’. The Stage Manager nodded, and pointed over to the stage, showing him where to set up his kit.
We politely left the area to allow him to set up, and compared our nearly-new Lexus to his battered Nissan. Is this all that a handful of top ten hits in the nineties allowed him to stretch to? Maybe the songwriter had fared better? Maybe he was just frugal?
Eventually, the singer and the rest of the band arrived. They – and a good chunk of their equipment – were all crammed inside a Mini, and when they decanted it was obvious the years (or maybe the drink and drugs) had not been kind. The singer’s bleached blond hair was thinning and lank, his eyes were those of a man who had almost made it big, but instead was forced to relive former glories night after night up and down the country, for £250 a night.
We compared their two second hand cars and dead-eyed stares with our Lexus 4×4, and wide eyed enthusiasm and in that nano-second, I knew that this was over. I was in a hobby, but I could never give up the lifestyle I had earned in twenty years of office work, and risk my mortgage, my security, my family, for the fickle, transitory, uncertain life on the road.
We didn’t bother to wait around for their autographs.